This set of installations was made for a one night event with the theme ‘Astronaughtical’, as event co-lead on decor.
It was all for a bit of fun and was achieved with the indispensable help of group of great people dispersed across London with a shared sense of community as ‘burners’, the global Burning Man community. The event is an opportunity for celebrating and decompressing after the infamous Art meets Radical Self Reliance event in the Nevada Desert. London is not quite the same, but taking part in this event there was definitely something of that same ethos that was felt across the whole 2000 person, multi floored event that night, and I am really happy to have taken part and made welcome by that group of people.
If you’re interested In how this came about here’s a bit more of a story.
While working in a London art gallery throughout 2016 I thought I would make the most of my time in a london to make contact with some Burning Man people, the community around the annual spectacle of creativity meets radical self-reliance. It has been a long nurtured dream of mine to be in that desert surrounded by mutant metal art, light and fire, and for years this has just been a distant dream due to limited time or money for such extravagant travels.
But these things all start somewhere don’t they.
So jumping into the digital world I soon found myself on various lists and aware of a monthly meet up of a london based burners in the back room of a pub, so back in the physical world I went along, met some good people and found I suddenly had a little island of fellow half geek-half artist types in the middle of the city. Funnily enough, it seems quite a few of them support their fascinating, obscure but mostly unpaid projects with slightly scary IT responsibilities. So I’m not the only one!
I didn’t get to burning man that year but it turned out they really needed more help with their annual post-burn ‘decompression’ event, which is like a mini urban burn. The same ethos of sharing, gifting, self expression and creativity is harnessed to generate a 2000 person, multi floored event full of performers, art and themed ‘camps’. Teams are assembled under an impressively tight structure to make it all happen, and as a seasoned large scale event fitter with an art/ theatre background I think they seemed pretty happy when I offered to help with decor.
Somehow, I ended up co-leading in that area. I teamed up with an interior designer with lots of great design skills but no event experience and a very lovely and talented bunch of helpers who the fabulous volunteer co-ordination sent our way. Despite far too short a timescale (about a month from first meeting and about two months less than I would normally work with for an event of that size!), working round the clock, with a lot of stress and a zillion emails, messages, calls and communiques, spread out across kitchens and back yards across london, doing technique demos by video call and sharing progress shots by social media groups, we created a set of weird and wonderful constructions with which to adorn ceilings, walls and even people at the venue. Then suddenly, it was install time already! Luckily, I knew what challenges lay ahead with install – long brutal hours, needing to think about 15 things at once, organise other people, run quality controls and hazard checks on everything, still hold a coherent conversation and make sure you cut yourself space for a coffee. It’s a centring and stamina test, and thats before you factor in a night of partying and enjoying everything you’ve made with the pop else you created it with. Plus the real sting in the tail, the take-down at dawn (!)
The craziness and chaos is all stuck together with those amazing people who know at just the right moment when to give you a high-five, turn up with a fresh bit of energy, a stack of pizza or just give you a hug. Couldn’t do it without those people.
Everyone loved what we made.
Good party, people!
Thanks especially to Dave, Hakim, Federica and Francesca, Lucy, Karen, Salman, Patrick, Gordon, Carol, Daniel, Lee, also all the moral support from leads Rob, Hilda, Verity, Adam, Will, Simon, Anamika, the fabulous Sharkles, mighty wielder of volunteer lists, and so many others…